1 : any of numerous usually cloudy and rounded spots or patches of a color or shade different from their background
My friend, Owen at Streaming Colour, has released his companies first game: Dapple. The game is now officially available on the Apple store and I highly recommend it! Am I biased? Sure, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a really good game. I’m going to do my best to give it an honest review and game play breakdown. To find out what Dapple is, the best way to find that out is from this video:
Puzzle Games and me
First of all I have to come clean and say that I am typically not a fan of puzzle games. Why bring this up? Well typically I feel that puzzle games don’t really have a purpose other than killing time. There are a few that I have played that I find step out of this mold: Tetris, Bejewelled, Lumines, Bookwork, Bookworm Adventures and now Dapple. To capture my attention a puzzle game needs the following ingredients: Polish, interesting decision space, sense of accomplishment and skill.
Dapple is a very polished experience. The art, audio, menu flow and above all the operation of the in game controls are very polished. There are the odd times that a tile I didn’t mean to gets selected, but the double tap mechanism protects this from causing issues. In the puzzle game world I prefer a solid core mechanic that is well done rather than a boat load of features. The polish also needs to have the right timing and reward feel for scoring well. Dapple does a great job of showing you your chained successes without having to long of a stop in game play.
Interesting Decision Space
I found the learning curve for Dapple a bit longer than a game like Bewjewelled. Changing paint colours is a bit of a different rule set to remember than just pairing up blocks of similar colors. Because I have to focus on getting a successful move in Dapple, I find I don’t have “as” much time to determine my long term chained results as I did in Bewjewelled. I would categorize Dapple as much harder than Bewjewelled to start, but finding a good combination before the hint icon shows up is more rewarding as a result. I’m hoping that as I play, the strategy space for the board will open up a bit to me so I can plan more move chains. The brown paint and special icons always factored into my paint selections and made me feel good about the long term planning.
Sense of Accomplishment
My favorite mode for accomplishment is the two player mode. This is a typical push the board in the other players direction. I think the first time I played this was in Lumines and I really loved it there as well. Having the competition plus colours coming in from both ends of the board is really exciting. During the regular course of the game you have a bonus meter and many animations and rewarding sounds for chained scoring paint matches. To me Dapple is on par with the high standards from PopCap games.
If I have one criticism for Dapple, it is that it takes a little while to “get”. I think this is because I’m a little slow on the colour matching. Every time I pick the game up I need about four to five selections before I really get back into the groove. Once the initial barrier is broken, I still find I’m spending my cranial power to find and evaluate the best initial move and that I find it a bit more difficult to plan out combos. However, when I am in the groove my brain slowly adjusts and then it is a blast. I think that game is actually training a little bit of the right/left brain rivalry. My logical side wants to find the best match but I really need to tune out in a way and let instinct kick in. When that happens it rolls really well.
Owen has a great commentary on how he picked the price for Dapple. The apple store is an interesting place. It has bargain deals on lots of great products and basically makes game pricing on other platforms look atrocious. Console games go for $30-$60. Many Indie PC/Mac games go for $15-$20. Why does the apples store have so many products that are less than $5? I think that this is because people think of these as novelties or disposable content. Music you listen to a bunch for a little while and move onto the next song. Lots of people do that with games as well and at that price point you can try a lot of product for much less. In some ways I think Apple might be catering to the A.D.D. that seems to affect an entire generation. In that regard, I think that Dapple fits in an awkward spot. The game experience can be entertaining for hours but doesn’t have the first two minute hook. If you give a bit of time to learn Dapple $5 will be an absolute steal for this game but if you give it the 30 second unfair try, you might feel a bit burned at $5. If you do like games like Bewjewelled and don’t mind a bit more complicated version you should feel safe to pick this one up.
My wife and I have both put in a fair number of hours and are really happy with our Dapple purchase. Not only do I have a great game to play, but I can support someone who is out creating games that they love to play themselves. So many things on the apple store look like a money grab, Dapple stands out to me as a game with heart rather than as an attempt to get rich. That is the kind of product I want to support with my $$$.